Four young children tragically died after a fire broke out at their family home.
Olly Unitt, 3, Tilly Rose Unitt, 4, Keegan Jonathan Unitt, 6, and Riley John Holt, 8, died in a devastating house fire after their parents fell asleep while smoking, an inquest heard.
Natalie Unitt and her partner Chris Moulton were taken into custody on suspicion of manslaughter.
The house fire that killed the four children occurred at the family home in Stafford, Staffordshire in February 2019.
The 26-year-old mother told the inquest that she was suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder and could not remember what happened after the blaze broke out.
Mr. Moulton, 30, also told the inquest that he believed the fire started on a landing.
An inquest heard the four children tragically died from ‘fumes from fire caused by an unextinguished cigarette’ in the parents’ bedroom.
Ms. Unitt and Mr. Moulton denied the blaze started in their bedroom.
But fire investigator Leigh Richards concluded that the fire ‘was caused by carelessness with cigarettes’ in the bedroom.
The blaze ripped through the property around 2:40 am on February 2, 2019. The father-of-three jumped from the first-floor window with their youngest child while Ms. Unitt managed to escape through the front door.
Both parents said they could not remember what happened after the incident but the father believed the blaze started on the landing near a boiler.
But Lee Richards of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service said there was no evidence that a gas supply fault or electrical fault triggered the fire.
“The fire in my opinion developed within the bedroom. As the fire developed, the room went into full flashover, where everything within the room becomes involved in fire,” Mr. Richards said.
“Having the windows open aided ventilation to the fire and allowed the fire to grow greatly and spread outside the compartment.”
Coroner Andrew Haigh also said: “Ms Unitt had been advised not to smoke in the property but there is substantial evidence of them continuing to do so.
“It’s understandable they tried to play down the significance of this bearing in mind what has happened.
“Mr Moulton suggested that the fire may have been caused where the boiler is on the landing on the property. I do not accept that. I have heard the expert evidence and Mr Richards has clearly indicated why the boiler is not the cause of this fire.”
The coroner added: “He has properly explained his reasons for his decision as to the cause of the fire. That was that the fire started as a result of a cigarette on the bedding in the main bedroom.
“Of significant note … within the recess of the left-hand (window) casement when looking from inside the lounge, there was a single discarded cigarette butt.
“That had not been stubbed out in my opinion and had been left to burn on its own. There was evidence within the lounge of a number of cigarettes that littered the carpet against the skirting boards.”
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